Friday, January 30, 2015

6 A Week Is A Week, Or Is It? #70day70years

I am learning to remember there once lived a person named Gezela Lorinz nee Noilander. She was born in Oradea Mare, Romania, 1885 and died in Auschwitz, 1944, aged 59. May her memory be for a blessing.

by Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein

You can read the essay by clicking on the title above. Here are my thoughts. 

I found the opening paragraph of this essay the most fascinating. The fact that the Western World still has seven-day weeks and celebrates the end of each one with a holiday. Rabbi Goldstein points out that every other cycle of time is measured according to the physics of the natural world. One year is the time it takes the earth to orbit the sun. A month is the cycle of the moon in relation to the position of the earth. And a day is one rotation of the earth on its own axis. Only a week is based on an ancient text that is not even followed by most of the people or cultures of our world.

In the past different lengths of week have been implemented in different countries and cultures. Indeed some Asian and African cultures still have a traditional calendar with different lengths of week, anything from 3 days to 10 days. 

As late as 1929 the USSR changed from a 7 day week to a 5 day week with different days off to maximize production. When this wasn't satisfactory as families could never enjoy the same day off together, they changed again, in 1931, to a 6 day week. This time they all had the same holiday whilst still getting rid of the undesirable religious Sunday. In 1940 the whole experiment was abandoned and they went back to 7 day weeks. It turned out that 5 working days was just not as efficient as 6 working days. 

From 1793 to 1802 and again for only 18 days in 1871, France experimented with the decimal week. It makes sense when you consider that all other measurements and numbers are based on the decimal system. But no sense when you still have 365 1/4 days in a year and between 28 and 31 days in a month with no decimal connection whatsoever. The experiment failed when workers complained that one day off in 10 was untenable, despite having every 5th day as a half holiday. It was also awkward for Christians who observed their sabbath on Sundays.  

The funniest weekly system, however, is the blocking timetable tried in some schools in the 1990s which led to chaos and confusion. As a solution to not enough periods in the week and lessons that are too short, a system of longer lessons with a 6 or 8 day cycle was introduced. This meant that, for example, any Monday was different from other Mondays depending on which day of the cycle fell on that Monday. You know that it's Monday but is it day 3 or day 7? And different year groups could be running on different cycles. So on Monday you might be teaching Year 1 on day 3 followed by Year 5 on day 4. 

It seems that 7 days is optimum. Bible or no Bible it seems 6 days of work, even if one of those days is working at home on the garden or your hobby, followed by a day of rest is what best suits human nature. 

Personally, I'm not interested in how you choose to celebrate your day of rest. There are rules and regulations for Jews but, seriously, it's the essence of the day that appeals to me. One day to step back and focus on your friends and family, with no rushing between appointments and obligations. One day in every 7 to unwind, relax, and regroup. Perfect. 


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